As technology plays an ever-growing part in our lives, lawmakers, as well as high-tech companies have to deal with the problem of inheritance of these digital assets. The importance of these assets is demonstrated by the fact that according to notaries, they became part of succession in an increasing number. One has to pay attention to the inheritance of these accounts, since it can easily happen that heirs will not be able to access for example the deceased persons' cryptocurrency account.
Digital assets range from Facebook profiles to cryptocurrency accounts, and their most important common feature is that they are guarded with a password. A crucial aspect of the inheritance is to what extent will heirs be entitled to use the inherited asset. In the absence of proper legislation, the tech companies started to regulate this matter, however not consistently. For example, heirs could access the deceased persons' Facebook profile, without ever being able to see the previously sent messages, while Google gives full access to the heirs. The access is granted usually after the heirs provide a death certificate or other equal document.
According to dr. Tamás Parti, Vice President of the Hungarian Chamber of Civil Law Notaries, there is no harmonized response to the question regarding the fate of an invention found on a Google Drive account or the manuscript of a bestseller book. An even greater challenge is posed by cryptocurrencies as they are per definition non-regulated. He outlined that sooner or later lawmakers have to regulate this field as the owner of such digital assets became an everyday phenomenon. If one would like to ensure the proper inheritance of digital assets, that person must be forward-looking. A proper and maintained will shall be helpful.
By Levente Csengery, Partner, KCG Partners Law Firm